February 14, 2020

Three questions to MEDAS 21 fellow Johanna Mack about her research trip to Bissau

MEDAS 21 fellow Johanna Mack spent two weeks in Bissau and interviewed different actors of the media sector in order to generate basic information about the media landscape. They will be merged in a mapping of the Guinea-Bissauan media system. For example, she talked to representatives of journalists' associations, of state, public and community media, a Portuguese broadcaster and news agency and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office which offers assistance

to the media.

 

What is the biggest difference between researching in Bissau and

Germany for example?

A practical difference is that in Guinea-Bissau, it is not common to make

appointments a long time before a meeting shall take place. Rather, you just call and ask the people you want to meet if they are free on the same day. Moreover, the practice of journalism and the understanding of professionalism in the media sector is entirely different - mainly because of difficult working conditions for the journalists.

 

Which difficulties did you have to face?

Language is an issue because many people do not speak English or French, many not even Portuguese, but only Criollo and local languages. In addition, reaching media outlets outside the capital can be challenging. However, all my interview partners were very collaborative and ready to answer my questions.

 

What did you bring from Bissau?

I brought recordings and transcriptions of ca 25 interviews, as well as the current editions of local newspapers. In addition, the journey allowed me a better understanding of how journalists understand their work in Guinea-Bissau and how the media function there.

 

In the next months, Johanna will work on her theory and methodology. In particular, she will read about media system analysis and different theoretical approaches to (media) development.

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February 3. 2020

Three questions to MEDAS 21 fellow Viviane Schönbächler about her field research in Burkina Faso

MEDAS 21 fellow Viviane Schönbächler is currently spending her time in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Since last November, she is carrying out her field research and her practice stay with her partner organization Eirene. In this first phase of field research, she wants to conduct an analysis of actors involved in local radios and also analyze their weekly programming with a special focus on gender and conflict coverage.

 

What did you do in Ouagadougou so far?

As for my practice stay with Eirene, I was asked to support their quest for an increased gender sensitivity in their Sahel program. Therefore, I conducted interviews with Eirene staff members, partner organizations, women journalists in the program and radio staff members of nine different local radio stations in Burkina Faso. And I collected more than 150 hours of radio programs. Moreover, I had the opportunity to participate in a regional seminar in Senegal, organized by Panos Institute West Africa, which discussed questions and approaches around gender-sensitive journalism.

 

What was the most interesting experience by now?

I found it very interesting how available women journalists in Niger were. Within three days, I was able to contact and conduct seven interviews without any difficulties. And despite the bad internet connection and some language barriers, these interviews were very rich and encouraging! The experience of conducting an interview through voice messages was also new and challenging for me.

The seminar with Panos West Africa was a great opportunity to meet and exchange with many women and men who are fighting for gender equality in the media.

 

What are your greatest "lessons learned"?

Always have a plan B and C and D ready! Everything can change, so be ready to adjust! This is particularly true in a difficult security situation. It also means, to be ready to adjust your methodology to the needs of the research participants. Where the situation is not stable, take concerns of anonymity, travelling constraints, and financial matters serious and be honest and straightforward with what you can and what you cannot do.

And provide for some buffer time! A week can pass very quickly and even though people in Burkina Faso are very spontaneous, it is also possible that spontaneously they will not be available for a week! Thanks to my buffer weeks, I was able to get the data I needed despite many delays and postponements.

 

Viviane will be back in Germany by mid-February. She planes to go back to the field in late March 2020 for the second phase, in which she will focus on the experience of women journalists in their daily work at these radio stations. And of course, she will continue to analyze the data collected so far as well as her analysis of Eirene’s Sahel program. Moreover, she will finish a draft report, which will be further developed in a next phase of practice stay in August-October 2020.

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December 9, 2019

MEDAS 21 celebrates the jubilee of the Catholic Media Council

On Nov 28-29, 2019, Michel Leroy, one of Medas21's PhD candidates and research assistant at the Erich-Brost-Institute, was in charge of leading through the Catholic Media Council's jubilee celebration in Aachen as "master of ceremony".

For 50 years, Cameco has been a major player in media development. Its library is one of the richest in the sector.

On the occasion of its anniversary, media specialists from all over the world came together for a conference on the topic “Communicating from and with the margins.”

Three main questions were addressed:  How to better address the needs of marginalised groups? How can communication initiatives become more sustainable? And how can good practices be upscaled?

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November 8, 2019

Meet and Greet at the FoME Symposium 2019

The annual symposium of the „Forum Medien und Entwicklung“ (FoME) is Germany’s most important gathering of people active in the field of media development. No wonder that the MEDAS 21 fellows were high in number at this year’s symposium which took place from Nov 7-8, 2019, in Bonn. Johanna Mack, Viviane Schönbächler, Stefan Wollnik, Roja Zaitoonie and Michel Leroy (pictured from left to right with MEDAS 21 coordinator Ines Drefs) seized the event as an opportunity to catch up with practice partners such as Catholic Media Council, Foundation Hirondelle, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and DW Akademie. The range of media development practitioners, journalists and academics present at the symposium also allowed to make new contacts and to gain insights into innovative technologies and approaches to media development in the new information ecosystem.

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November 8, 2019

Paper presentation at the DGPuK Conference in Dortmund

MEDAS fellow Roja Zaitoonie has presented a paper titled "The Achievements and Challenges of the United Nations’ General Assembly in the Field of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs)" at the workshop 'Inter/transnational media policy and regulation in digital environments. Debates. Strategies. Innovations' in Dortmund at the end of October 2019. The workshop was organized by the International and Intercultural Communication section (IIC) of the German communications scholars’ network DGPuK.

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September 26, 2019

Constructing Peace through Media? Paper presentation at the ECREA Workshop in Tel Aviv

MEDAS fellow Roja Zaitoonie has presented a paper titled "Constructing Peace through Media? The Targeted Use of Media Interventions in Peace Processes" at the workshop 'The Constructionist View of Communication: Promises and Challenges' in Tel Aviv, which was organized by the Philosophy of Communication Section of ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association).

The paper reviews the phenomenological and constructivist approaches of Edmund Husserl, Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann and discusses their potential relevance for UN efforts on media development in peace missions.

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July 23, 2019

Achievements and Challenges of the United Nations' General Assembly: Paper presentation at the annual IAMCR Conference in Madrid

MEDAS fellow Roja Zaitoonie has presented a paper on "The Achievements and Challenges of the United Nations’ General Assembly in the Field of Media and Public Communication" at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) in Madrid.

The paper examines nearly 1.600 subject-related resolutions adopted by the General Assembly between 1945 and 2018. It highlights the achievements and challenges of the General Assembly in the field of media and public communication and provides a basis for further investigation and knowledge-based advocacy concerning the promotion of freedom of information and media development in global governance.

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June 1, 2019

The last fellow joined MEDAS 21

Johanna Mack is the last doctoral student who joined the research school MEDAS 21 on June 1, 2019. In her project, she will focus on another aspect of media development cooperation and complete the range of topics.

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November 8, 2018

Successful Inaugural Lecture: MEDAS 21 – Global Media Assistance in the 21st century

Dr Roukaya Kasenally, CEO of the African Media Initiative, talked about the sustainability of African-European media cooperation.

The MEDAS 21 team with its partners. Photo: Marcus Kreutler
The MEDAS 21 team with its partners. Photo: Marcus Kreutler

The new research program MEDAS 21 – Global Media Assistance in the 21st Century started on 8th November 2018 with a successful inaugural lecture in the Erich-Brost-Institute for international journalism (EBI). For the next four years, the structured doctoral program will focus on media development cooperation and is supported by VolkswagenStiftung with about 1,7 million euro. MEDAS 21 is one of only eight supported research schools in Germany that is located at the intersection of university theory and practical application. 

 

Not only guests and friends of the Brost-Institute but also students and teachers of the Institute for journalism had the chance to listen to an exciting presentation of Dr Roukaya Kasenally, keynote speaker that evening. As CEO of the African Media Initiative, she could give a brief overview of the current developments, problems and discussions about media development cooperation. 

 

Dr Kasenally put an emphasis on the question of sustainability and efficiency of media cooperation between African and European countries and outlined possible financing and business models. Talking about the related quality requirements, she underlined the challenges media have to face due to the digitalisation of markets and the public sphere. In her opinion, African media need to develop an “African vocabulary” in order to fulfil their growing social responsibility – at that point, international partnerships should take over a leading position. These partnerships needed to act in a less competitive but a more cooperative and constructive way to promote a self-determined and sustainable media landscape. 

 

The director of the EBI and main notifier of the project, Prof Dr Susanne Fengler, is looking forward to new horizons MEDAS 21 will open: “The support of the VolkswagenStiftung is an extremely positive development. It is and will remain a difficult task to develop successful media companies and foster a public-oriented journalism. Effective media cooperation can thus contribute to boost media potentials.” At the same time, success is not granted. “It is conspicuous that there is no scientific organisation dealing with media development cooperation even though it is a huge topic that has to face lots of complex problems”, says Fengler. “That’s what we want to do in our new research program: promote the dialogue between science and professional practice, concentrate our knowledge, evaluate current developments and offer our results to the responsible media and communication officers in development institutions.” Due to that idea, science will remain at the pulse of social necessity. 

 

Background:

The VolkswagenStiftung supports the structured doctoral program MEDAS 21 – under the auspices of the TU Dortmund’s Institute for Journalism (IF) – with 1,7 million euro. The principal goal of the foundation is to ensure closer ties between theoretical approaches and practical relevance in the education of doctoral students. Besides Prof Dr Susanne Fengler (TU Dortmund), Prof Dr Barbara Thomaß (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) and Prof Dr Jens Loenhoff (Universität Duisburg-Essen) initiated the project. Dr Dirk-Claas Ulrich (EBI, TU Dortmund) conceived the research school and is scientific program director. The team of scientists has already cooperated in the context of the graduate program “School of International and Intercultural Communication | SIIC”, supported by MERCUR. The school focuses on current developments in media development cooperation under changed technological and political conditions. Furthermore, the seven PhDs have the chance to work up to one year in a cooperating foundation or NGO. Project partners are Deutsche Welle Akademie, Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), African Media Initiative (AMI), Media Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) as well as the Catholic Media Council (CAMECO) and the Swiss Fondation Hirondelle.

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July 1, 2018

The first six out of seven fellows joined MEDAS 21

Michel Leroy, Stefan Wollnik and Roja Zaitoonie were the first doctoral students joining the research school MEDAS 21 on July 1, 2018, followed by Mira Keßler and Viviane Schönbächler on August 1 and Fabiola Ortíz on November 1. In the next years, they will focus on different aspects concerning media development cooperation. MEDAS 21 can be seen as "interdisciplinarity within a discipline", promises innovative theoretical approaches and focuses solutions to problems of practical relevance.